Conor Ward makes sure his French bulldog Hamilton is well cared for.
“Took him to get neutered as soon as he was six months and then we'll be taking him for his year check-up shortly,” he said.
But, Ward said he was not aware of a newer health risk, canine influenza, which can spread at popular dog hangouts.
“He likes playing with other dogs. He's friendly, so I like to allow him to interact with other dogs and people,” Ward said.
Veterinarians said some cases have been reported recently in the St. Louis area, and they’re advising dog owners to get their pets vaccinated. The annual vaccine comes in a two-part series.
“If you go to the dog park, if you go to parks, if you boarding or grooming or pet daycare, having the dog vaccinated is the most important step,” said Dr. Kelly Ryan, the director of the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America.
Ryan said the virus is transmitted mainly through nasal discharge, coming from another dog or object, like chew toys or dog bowls.
The symptoms include sneezing, coughing, and watery eyes. Dr. Ryan said 25 percent of dogs who carry the virus won’t show any symptoms. And, there are no cures.
“The dogs that are dying from the disease get secondary complications. It starts with sneezing or coughing, but can be debilitating pneumonia quickly,” said Dr. Ryan.
As for Ward, he will ask for the vaccine during Hamilton’s next vet visit.
“I'd rather be preventative and proactive in making sure his health is where it's supposed to be,” he said.
For more information on protecting your pets from the flu, click here.